Barb Parks has seen how Uniquely Yours Stability Support can help someone in need.
She cites the case of a young woman who had gotten into drugs, couldn’t keep a job — and who had burned bridges with local agencies.
Then she came to UYSS, a non-profit agency designed to prevent homelessness and to help move people out of homelessness.
“Uniquely Yours stepped up and helped her and she’s doing very well,” said Parks, a UYSS board member. “She has a great job. She’s not on drugs anymore….
“She truly feels that if was not for Uniquely Yours, she would not be here today.”
Parks hopes more people will be helped through the agency which now has its own downtown location at 240 N. Main St., in Fremont. The official opening is scheduled for May 1.
Robin Ritter, UYSS chief executive officer and founder, launched the agency in 2007.
UYSS is designed to work with other agencies to help fill in gaps in services or funds.
Many families are one paycheck or disaster away from homelessness.
So when a hardship — such as their car breaking down — occurs, their ability to stay in their home may be threatened.
They might seek help with a local agency, only to find they don’t qualify with that entity for assistance.
That’s where UYSS can help.
An agency can refer the individual or family to Uniquely Yours, which works with area businesses, such as mechanics and dentists, to find solutions to obstacles that threaten the client’s housing stability.
Some of those obstacles may be a past utility bill that must be paid or crucial dental work or a car that needs to be fixed.
“Uniquely Yours loves connecting the dots,” Ritter said. “To us it makes sense that if their car can’t get fixed, they can’t make it to work. They can’t pay their rent. If they can’t pay their rent, now their housing stability is threatened — when it’s so much cheaper to keep the family intact and in place versus the decline into homelessness.”
UYSS doesn’t take self-referrals.
An agency must refer the person or family.
For instance, if Care Corps Homeless Services, Inc., refers the family, Ritter knows they have case management that can help them identify what’s preventing them from keeping — or regaining — a home, and which can help them work toward their goals.
“We feel there’s enough emergency agencies out there that meet those immediate needs that it allows us to focus on those that do have a plan,” Ritter said. “We work with a very motivated group of individuals and families.”
With the new, downtown location, UYSS can continue to move forward with its mission.
The 2,300-square-foot facility includes an interview-clothing shop area. Clients come with a voucher. They can receive one free outfit which they can wear to an interview and reading glasses they can use to help fill out applications.
Once they’ve shown proof that they’ve gotten a job, they can receive up to four more outfits to finish the week, Ritter said, adding that backpacks also are available.
The new location also includes a meeting/break room with kitchenette, three offices, a classroom/conference area and a garage. The garage is being filled with donations for two types of garage sales. One garage sale will feature items that people can purchase for freewill donations. The other will be a garage sale designed as a fundraiser.
Ritter noted that UYSS will operate out of half of the facility while Impact Services, a for-profit agency that works with juveniles, will work out of the other.
Future plans include free life skills classes on budgeting and employability and sessions where different agencies such as the Fremont Family YMCA or The Bridge (formerly the Crisis Center) talk about services they provide.
Ritter and Parks look forward to the future.
“This has been a vision of Robin’s for quite a few years and to see it blossom is wonderful,” Parks said. “…I’m very, very lucky to be part of it. I’m very honored to be a board member. It makes me want to do as much as I possibly can do.”